Aug 7, 2023
DID NOT START (DNS) - sometimes it's the best decision.
I had said I was going to write about the new race in Heaton, Manchester called The Ultra Loop after I had done it. It was made all the more exciting as it was a new event and I had won it in an Instagram competition. But I did not start.
The race was in my training plan for months and even the week before the race, I had discussed run strategy with my coach on how I was going to approach it. The Ultra Loop was a lapped race so you can do as little or as much as you wanted. However, the week of the race, doubts were starting to creep into my mind about whether I should start or not. It would mean a 5 hour drive to Manchester the night before, for a half marathon and then a drive back. Work was really busy and I was mentally exhausted. Brighton marathon was the week after and though not an 'A' goal but I certainly wanted fresher legs to get me to the start. So I sacked off the race, ran my local parkrun on the Saturday and switched to a long run route near my home instead.
Which made me think about the reasons why we might DNS? Although I had this race in my training schedule, it was clear that it was probably bad timing and too close to my marathon to have any real training impact. Races are a good motivation to keep you going in a training block but going out too strong or fast risks injury, being tired and certainly over racing carries risks.
We need to think about logistics of races as well. What looks good on paper can turn into a nightmare in reality. That weekend, the weather was atrocious and the drive looked daunting. I would arrive late at the hotel, probably only get a few hours sleep, run the race and then have to drive home. Not the best way to train in fact. I lost the money on the hotel but saved a couple of meals and petrol getting up there. A win in my books.
Sometimes you need to take a step back from your running schedule and have a long hard look at what you are doing. Time racing is time away from your family and friends. Have you signed up to a race because you got carried away? I've mentioned about overtraining but listening to your body and allowing rest is really important. Once I started asking my coach and my partner whether I should run this race, I knew that it wasn't the right decision for me.
And then we need to talk about injuries. Running through an injury can be really difficult and frustrating. Too little training and you are not prepared for the race. Too much training and the injury gets worse and risks either not starting or that other 3 letter phrase, DNF (did not finish). DNS may allow you to recover a bit longer or even defer a race to when you will enjoy it more and do it proper justice.
So, although no one likes to DNS actually it might be the best thing for you.